San Diego County Teams With UCSD on Plan for Zero-Carbon by 2035 | Union Tribune

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County leaders are teaming up with UC San Diego to create a blueprint for reducing the region’s carbon footprint to zero by 2035.

The Board of Supervisors voted unanimously on Wednesday to contract with UCSD’s School of Global Policy and Strategy to draft a plan that would establish a framework for zeroing out carbon emissions that cities through the county can embrace.

San Diego’s largest challenge in the fight against climate change will likely be reducing greenhouse-gas emissions from cars and trucks. The region’s sprawling auto-centric design and limited public transit will take decades to overhaul.

The move comes just weeks after the board — now controlled by Democrats for the first time in modern history — committed to redrafting its climate action plan. A previous version of the document was struck down in court based largely on a provision that would have allowed developers to buy their way around restrictions on climate emissions using carbon offsets.

The proposal to draft the zero-carbon plan was spearheaded by recently elected Supervisors Terra Lawson-Remer and Nora Vargas. The move came after nearly 1,500 residents signed a petition demanding that leaders take bolder steps to curb global warming.

“Residents are demanding action to fight the climate crisis and decarbonize our region,” said Lawson-Remer, “and this is a new board that is committed to listening to the public and putting our children and planet first.”

The new plan will prioritize low-income communities of color, which are often the hardest hit by climate change, Vargas said. “For decades, communities of concern have faced the largest consequences due to climate change. While progress has been made through the implementation of various cities’ climate action plans, our region must do more through collaborative action.”

Republican Supervisor Jim Desmond supported the zero-carbon plan but urged the county not to take actions that would make it more difficult to build new housing. Environmental groups have, in recent years, successfully sued developers and the county to block rural housing developments that would’ve significantly increased tailpipe emissions.

“I’d like to ask the board to be cognizant of the housing crisis we’re in and not to implement land-use policy that would create even a greater disparity for homeownership within the county,” he said.

The board also voted unanimously to establish a new Climate Advisory Committee. The committee will report back to the full board on a regular basis and help guide the creation of the zero-carbon plan over the next two years.

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